I've never quite understood all the hoopla surrounding the power consumption of LCD and plasma HDTVs, especially when you consider that the much thirstier 3-tube rear projection big screens of yore consumed a whole lot more power than the 200–300 watts of modern day sets. Of all the energy-draining applinces in a home (A/C, refrigerator, electric oven/range, etc.), your typical flat panel TV is fairly low on the energy-hog tree.
Nonetheless, HDTV flat panel makers are screaming green from the rooftops these days (indeed, at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show, virtually all the big-name HDTV makers wove the green theme heavily into their new model launches). I’m all for sensible conservation though, keeping an eye out for ways to save on my electric bill.
With Sharp’s latest AQUOS big screen LCD HDTVs, going green actually has a substantial corollary side-benefit, and that’s reduced light output—my biggest beef with most LCD flat panel HDTVs is that their light output at the factory defaults is ridiculously over-the-top. The new AQUOS models feature 120Hz screen refresh (a must in this price category) and a smartly-implemented ambient light sensing technology that actually works like a charm, taming light output to easy-on-the-eye levels, and adjusting upward or downward the screen’s backlighting based on the room’s ambient light condition, saving energy in the process.
Consider this HDTV if: you’re looking for a large-screen LCD HDTV that features realistic light output levels (once the Home mode is selected at initial setup), preventing the eye strain that so many other models inpose with their elevated, overly-bright backlighting. The set’s connectivity is generously above the norm as well.
Look elsewhere if: you like a picture with exaggerated color emphasis, as this latest Sharp actually has a color gamut that more closely approximates (but not exactly) the correct color coordinates of the HDTV standard. That might make the Sharp look a tad muted compared to other models, but it actually outputs a more accurate, correct and natural-looking color palette.
The two main advantages to this latest AQUOS are the requisite 120Hz screen refresh and Sharp’s Optical Picture Control (OPC), which adjusts the backlight levels according to signal input as well as ambient light levels. The 120Hz refresh demo feature has a high-rez picture of a colorful bird perched on green foliage, slowly scrolling across the split screen, with an obvious improvement in detail on the 120Hz side, compared to the 60Hz side. But, that same split screen demo mode shows little improvement with actual program material—a typical result that I’ve found with other sets. Still, the 120Hz feature produced no visible artifacts as it went about its business, so even though the amount of improvement is relatively low, the feature nonetheless works as advertised.
The OPC function works very well with an on-screen indicator (a row of green leaves—a bit too “cutesie” for my tastes) to show when the auto-dimming feature tames the backlighting as the ambient room light drops (the indicator function can be disabled). In the menu, the AQUOS has min/max backlighting range adjustments so you can expand or trim the variable backlighting effect, another smart touch.